Monday, 18 March 2019

Flaming Home! (Episode Nine)



Najwa’s Point of View

Where am I?

My eyes flutter against closed lids as I struggle to open them. I feel so uncomfortable…it is like the whole world is resting on me. My head throbs and my hands and feet are hurting.

I open my eyes…lo and behold, I’m in a different place…like a different world. Everywhere appears blurry and I can hardly understand what is happening.

Where am I?

I try to move my arms but I can’t.  My hands and legs are tied together. I can barely move. I try to scream for help but I have been gagged. My mouth has been sealed and I can hardly utter a world.

Ba  yuhdbbbfuuu.” I try to say ‘Anyone here?’ but what comes out is beyond comprehension.

There is a gnawing pain that makes my head feels like it would be rented apart. My stomach hurts badly and the sharp pain makes my legs tremble. My hands and legs feel like they are in flames and my body is starving for food and water. My shirt is composed of dried blood stain and I am stinking like the pile of dust bin at the backyard of my house.

For how long have I been here?

I struggle to keep my eyes steady as I scan around the room. It is a small cramped room that smell of dust and reeking of a foul odour like the smell of a dead rat. The room is dimly lit so I can hardly see very clearly.  But I am tied to a corner like the body of a dead animal.

I strain my eyes as I try to read what is written on the wall. Despite the dizzy state I’m in, I can read my name on the walls of the room.

‘Become Najwa! Kill Najwa! Anas is yours! Najwa is you, you are Najwa!’

These phrases are painted on the walls of the room. I can also see my pictures with a cross sign stained over them with blood…my pictures marked with a dagger symbol…my pictures are torn apart and littering the floors of the room.

“You should take over Najwa’s position now since no investigation has proven her innocent. She is even nowhere to be found. Who knows…maybe she absconded so as to avoid bearing the truth, the fact that she sold our ideas to a rival company. Barakah, I understand that Najwa is your friend and you love her so much but you can’t support her every time. We all know that she is guilty. She hated Mutmahinat and tried to frame her. She doesn’t care about you while you follow her like you’re her puppet. It’s time for you to get promoted and desert that evil lady you call your friend…”

I can hear a voice over the phone which is undoubtedly that of Mrs. Bola. I struggle to tilt my head upwards. There she is! Barakah! She is standing by the right corner of the room, dressed in a black nightgown with a phone pressed to her ear.

It is then I remembered what had happened. Barakah poisoned me andsmack my head with a pestle. I remember the sight of the red-thick blood that streaked down my head. Anas was right…Barakah is the enemy that I’d trusted all these years!

“No, Mrs. Bola,” Barakah is saying in between tears that are definitely fake. She takes a few seconds break to blow her nose before she continues. “I’m certain that Najwa is innocent. She is my best friend and I trust her so well. I won’t assume her position until all investigations are being concluded. We still have a few days to tell is she will be sacked or not. Till then, I will strive to ensure that the truth is clear. That Najwa is innocent.”

“Okay, till then. Have a nice day, Barakah.” Mrs. Bola says and ends the call.

Just the second the call drops, Barakah burst out into a staccato of laughter. Her roar of laughter fills the whole room and makes me shriek in fear and disbelief.

Barakah? My best friend? The woman I trusted more than my family? How can she be a devil? Now, it has dawned on me that I’ve been in total oblivion. That the person I’ve trusted with my secret is a traitor.

Barakah paces around the room, swinging her phone in her right hand, sipping from her glass of wine and laughing loudly. I try to yelp for help but I can’t…my mouth has been sealed.

Finally, she turns to me with a look of sheer mockery and satisfaction. “She has finally woken up. Najwa has finally woken up…” she walks towards me and bends down to stare at me, eyeball to eyeball, “How do you like your new home? No husband...expensive clothes…fancy cars…make-ups…just you, tied here like an animal waiting to be slaughtered.” She says wryly, stands up and laughs again.

Barakah brings a seat and places it in front of me. She removes the seal from my mouth and I gasp for air. “Barakah…I am in pains…what did I do to deserve this? Why do you want to kill me?” I say in a strangled voice.

“Because you deserve to die. That poison I put in your drink, it will kill you slowly. You’ll be dead days from now.” She fixed me with an unwavering stare.

“But Barakah, we are friends. I’ve never offended you. I’ve treated you as my sister…” I cough and splutter, tears coursing down my face.

“Treated me as your sister by making me feel like a slave? Boasting about your enormous wealth and family because you know I don’t have one? You are wicked, Najwa. You care only about yourself. All those times, you weren’t trying to help me. You were trying to make me realize how lonely and unfortunate I am. You were trying to prove to me that you’re better than me in all ways.” She says as she cleans a tear that is streaking down her face.

“No… no…I truly did…”

“Shut up, dratted Najwa! Now, it’s my time to talk. You’ve always felt superior all these while. Now is the time to put you in your rightful place. Yes, I’ve been longing to see this day for a long time…the day Najwa will become nothing before me…”

“You framed me at the office didn’t you?” I say in tears and my forehead is wrinkled in utter disbelief. My bones are hurting and the ache in my head is worsened.

“Yes, I did. I will take your position at work and get married to Anas. I will become you. Mrs. Bola will find no evidence to prove your innocence. No one will believe that you didn’t do it. Your name will be long forgotten and Barakah will reign!”

I stare at him incredulously. I remember what Yasmin had said. She had warned me about Barakah but I turned deaf ears. Anas never liked him…I never inquired to know why…I’ve been a fool all this while.  I could have listened to Anas…I shouldn’t have stepped out of the house…oh, Anas…I’ll never live to tell you how much I love you and become the best wife for you…I’ll never live to show Sahadat how much I care about her as my daughter…

“You haven’t eaten for three days best friend. I’ll get you something to eat.” Barakah chuckles and smirks at me. She reaches for a plate and cup from a high table and places them on the floor beside me.

It is the remnant of spoilt white grains of rice which is reeking of a revolting smell and has turned milklike. She pours them on the floor and instructs me to eat with my mouth.

Dog food isn’t as worse as this! Me, Najwa! The wealthy, beautiful and famous TV presenter should eat spoilt food from the floor? Is this what my life has become?

“Here is water…you better eat this because you won’t be eating for another three days.” Barakah laughs mockingly.

I stare at her with a perpetually disdainful expression. This is unbelievable…Barakah making me pass through all this? I don’t deserve this treatment!” I spit on her face in anger. “You are wicked and shameless. Is this how you pay me back for all I have done for you? Tie me down like a slave, thrust an object on my head till I bleed on my clothes, hide me in this enclosed room, poison me like people try to kill rats in their homes, feed me with food worse than that of a dog? You are heartless, Barakah and I’ll never forgive you for this!” I howl in anger and struggle to get released. Instead, my hands hurt and my stomach stings me intensely. I fall to the ground with a loud thud and let out a piercing cry.

There is an awe-struck silence. Barakah gives me a resentful look, cleans her spit-stained face slowly and packs the rice to the plate. She takes the cup of water and frowns at me. “Fine.”

“Please, I need water.  I am thirsty…please don’t let me die. Please, Barakah…please…”
She seals my mouth and walks out of the room. I screech but I can only mumble incoherently. Bakarah is gone and I am in pains.

“Oh Allah, please grant me rescue and save my life.” I pray silently as the room door is shut. And everywhere turns dark!

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